Shimano to White Industries

by Chikashi

White Industries ENO freewheel

Apparently, many freewheels are vulnerable to mechanical failures because of the way they are designed and built.  When I used to race BMX, I broke many things, such as handlebars, cranks, wheels, seat pins and other bits.  However, I had never broken a freewheel or a chain.  Considering the way one races BMX, with numerous sudden starts with full on force applied to the drive train, this is actually surprising.  I do not ride my single speed road bike the way I raced BMX.  Actually, I ride it in a rather unhurried, casual manner; I am older now and am not racing.  Yet, I broke the freewheel after only a couple of months.

I initially installed a Shimano freewheel thinking that Shimano make quality parts and that it would make more economic and practical sense to buy the more expensive one from Shimano as I felt that buying a cheap one made in Taiwan would be false economy.  I also felt that it would be a little silly to get the supremely expensive White Industries freewheel even if theirs is mechanically superior to traditional freewheel design.  As it turns out, buying a Shimano one instead of a White Industries piece was false economy.

The truth is that Shimano freewheels are constructed based on the same design as the cheap Taiwanese ones except that the former’s manufacturing tolerance is much tighter.  Therefore, they all have the same mechanical vulnerabilities, as I found out the hard way.

So far I am very impressed by the White Industries ENO freewheel.  I actually feel the difference:  smoother and more secure.  It feels as though there is less power lost between the front and the rear of the drive train, but I might just be imagining it.